Ford seeks new trial after being ordered to pay $1.7 billion in crash lawsuit

Ford is seeking a new trial after being ordered to pay $1.7 billion to Georgia siblings whose parents died in a 2014 F-250 pickup crash – and claims the automaker ‘couldn’t present case’ to prove couple weren’t wearing seat belts properly

  • The Ford Motor Company has requested a new trial after being ordered to pay $1.7 billion in damages for a fatal crash in 2014
  • Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed when their Ford F-250 rolled over and the roof of the vehicle collapsed, crushing them
  • The Hills children sued and were awarded the largest damages award in Georgia history
  • Ford lawyers in documents filed on Monday say the company has not been given the opportunity to contest the claims against the faulty roof claim
  • Ford’s attorneys also argue the Hills weren’t wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.

The Ford Motor Company is seeking a new trial after a jury awarded $1.7 billion in damages in August to Georgia siblings whose parents were killed in a horrific 2014 rollover crash.

According to information from the Wall Street Journal, attorneys representing Ford filed two separate motions in Georgia, asking the state court to grant a new trial, as well as challenging the punitive damages awarded to the family.

In court documents filed Monday, Ford attorneys say the auto company was not allowed to share evidence contrary to what plaintiffs’ attorneys have argued.

Lawyers say Ford, which is worth more than $60 billion, had no opportunity to defend the faulty roof claims made by lawyers on the other side.

Melvin and Voncile Hill (pictured with one of their grandchildren) died in the 2014 wreck

Melvin and Voncile Hill (pictured with one of their grandchildren) died in the 2014 wreck

Lawyers representing Ford said that not only was the roof of the truck strong, but in fact, stronger than those made by my other manufacturers.

“Ford was unable to plead its case,” said Théodore Boutrous, a lawyer for Ford. “He was fighting with both hands behind his back.”

The car company also alleged that the Georgian couple were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

The lawsuit stems from the 2014 rollover accident that killed Melvin and Voncile Hill, a Georgian couple who were driving their Ford F-250 truck when it crashed.

Evidence presented in court shows how investigators found Hill's vehicle upon arriving at the crash scene in 2014

Evidence presented in court shows how investigators found Hill’s vehicle upon arriving at the crash scene in 2014

The roof of Hill's truck completely collapsed in the 2014 accident, killing the couple

The roof of Hill’s truck completely collapsed in the 2014 accident, killing the couple

After a three-week trial held in August 2022, the couple’s children were awarded the large sum in damages in a trial.

Court documents say the right front tire of the couple’s vehicle burst while they were driving from their farm and the vehicle overturned completely.

The couple were crushed inside the vehicle and eventually succumbed to their injuries.

Theodore Boutrous Jr., an attorney for the Ford Motor Company, said Ford was not given a fair trial to challenge the allegations made by Hill family attorneys.

Theodore Boutrous Jr., an attorney for the Ford Motor Company, said Ford was not given a fair trial to challenge the allegations made by Hill family attorneys.

Melvin and Voncile’s children, Kim and Adam Hill, later filed a lawsuit alleging the roof of the truck was faulty and was responsible for their parents’ deaths.

In the original lawsuit, attorneys for Kim and Adam argued that more than five million Super Duty trucks between 1999 and 2016 had faulty roof designs that made them weak and prone to collapse.

The plaintiff’s attorney also asserted that Ford knew the roofs could be dangerous and did nothing to act on the matter.

A photo of Melvin and Voncile Hill shared by lawyers in court during the August trial

A photo of Melvin and Voncile Hill shared by lawyers in court during the August trial

In August, Ford officials announced plans to appeal or file new lawsuits after the Hill family was awarded $1.7 billion.

“While our condolences go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by evidence and we plan to appeal,” Ford representatives said in August.

The Hill family won $24 million in compensatory damages in the summer trial, $16.8 million of which was to be paid by Ford.

This is the model Ford F-250 truck that Melvin and Voncile Hill were in when they crashed

This is the model Ford F-250 truck that Melvin and Voncile Hill were in when they crashed

Georgia law also requires that 75% of punitive damages be paid to the state.

Of the $1.7 billion awarded by the jury, the Hill family is claiming $425 million from Ford.

The damages award was the largest civil verdict ever handed down in the state.

“Excellent verdict for our customers, we are extremely happy for them. They suffered a lot and had tremendous courage to hold on for so long,” said one of the lawyers representing the Hill family at the time.

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